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Group Urges School District To Unlock Gates In South Fresno

Cultiva La Salud
Cultiva La Salud ran this ad in the local newspaper titled "Locked School Gates Hurt Our Children's Health." They argue that children in south Fresno do not have the same opportunities as other kids in different school districts.

A local group is putting pressure on Fresno Unified School District to unlock school gates after hours and on weekends. As FM89’s Diana Aguilera reports, they say every child no matter what zip code they live in should have a place to play.

The Fresno-based organization Cultiva La Salud, which means “cultivate health” is asking the district to keep school gates unlocked in south Fresno. They say in an area with high rates of obesity and lack of green spaces, kids need a place where they can play and be physically active after hours.

“They basically have to jump the fence, wiggle their way through the fence in order to get to that basketball court, or the soccer field, or the jungle gym that may be on their campus," says Genoveva Islas with Cultiva La Salud. "And that seems like such a huge injustice.”

The group says the lack of opportunities for kids can also lead to health problems including obesity related illnesses in their adulthood.

Fresno Unified spokesman Miguel Arias says they’re keeping the gates locked for safety and security.

“The last time that we had a school site open with no supervision when there was no organized activity we experienced what everyone else experienced which was theft. And you have folks move into the facility whether it’s homeless individuals or individuals who don’t a specific purpose to be there.”

But he says the district is working with city officials to come up with a long-term plan to make the school grounds available to the public.  

Diana Aguilera is a multimedia reporter native of Santiago, Chile. It was during her childhood in Santiago where her love for journalism sparked. Diana moved to Fresno while in her teens and is a proud graduate of California State University, Fresno. While earning her degree in journalism and minor in Latin American studies, Diana worked for the Fresno Bee. Her work as a general assignment reporter continued after college and was recognized by the California Newspaper Publishers Association. In 2014, she joined Valley Public Radio. Her hobbies include yoga, traveling and reading.